What makes us buy?

I’ve always been interested in marketing. I love learning what makes humans susceptible to advertisements and what makes a brand appealing to a consumer. The concept of selling and buying is fairly superficial, even when you break it down and yet, it is what every country’s  economy is based on. So what makes people buy so much? I find it strange that we are so receptive to advertisements and brands and we aren’t even aware of it. According to Joshua Becker, a human behavior specialist, humans view about 5,000 advertisements and brands each day. And what’s even weirder is that we don’t even realize it. According to Sheree Johnson, consumer psychologist, the number of pure advertisements we see per day is about 362 and yet, the average “noted” number of advertisements is 153. We see so many ads and don’t even internalize them! Subliminally, they make their way into out subconscious and this constant exposure is one of the many ways companies get consumers to buy.

Another way companies make us buy what their selling is by appealing to our nature. It’s in human nature to “save.” Money, time, material things, humans like to save them. According to Philip Graves, consumer behavior specialist, back in prehistoric time, the urge to save became imbedded in our biology. Humans had to save wood and food and other resources for the winter if they wanted to survive. While these primal needs are no longer a concern for many people, the instinct to “save” is still in us. Brands and companies appeal to this instinct by convincing us that if we buy their products, we’ll somehow end up saving more in the long run.


Have you ever had a night when all your friends were going out and even if you didn’t quite feel like it, you went out too? It was probably because you had a fear of missing out. This is completely normal human behavior and it’s another way companies attract buyers. They engage the instinct in you that’s saying “If you don’t do this right now, you’ll be missing out on something great and not have the opportunity to get it back!” According to Graves, this is called the loss aversion switch and this is why many companies put “limited time offer” on many of their advertisements, even if the offer is not for a limited time only. It’s also why you’ll tend to receive emails with timers on them, it’s so you feel the need to rush and buy. Companies want you to feel like you have to buy this RIGHT NOW or you won’t be able to ever again.


Another way companies gain the interest of people is buy convincing them that if they buy this product, their current problems will fade away. More often than not, companies will create the problem and convince the buyer that they have the problem and the product will fix it. According to psychologist Gareth Goh, companies will instill in its viewers the idea that “you have the power to change your problems with this product, so why wouldn’t you buy it?” If we feel that a product will take away our pain or leave us in a better place we were before, we’re likely to buy it.

And finally, a ploy that will make us all feel five years old, if you touch or play with a product, you are more likely to buy it. According to marketing professor at UCLA, Suzanne Shu, touching a product instills a sense owning the it already. This emotional attachment makes a consumer more likely buy it. So if you feel like you can’t keep your hands off, get ready to buy!

These and many more are tactics companies use to draw us into buying what their selling. Don’t fall for them!

sources:  http://www.insightsquared.com/2014/07/why-buyers-buy-the-psychology-of-purchase-decisions/http://www.becomingminimalist.com/fooled/https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/consumer-behavior/201303/five-reasons-we-impulse-buyhttps://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/26/retail-science-tricks-_n_6525062.html

photos:  https://www.truthinadvertising.org/every-single-auto-insurance-ad/http://www.pngall.com/limited-offer-png



3 thoughts on “What makes us buy?

  1. Jeremy Perdomo

    I must confess that the primary reason that I clicked on this blog was to learn more about the shopping addiction that I am currently afflicted with! At least once a week for the last couple of months (excluding my time here at Penn State since I am now broke), I have purchased a minimum of two items online and have had them shipped to my house with the standard shipping, and although my parents and siblings consistently warn me that my spending habits are dangerous, I can never seem to overcame my insatiable desire to order online!

    So, why do I have this issue with shopping, especially online? Your blog had the perfect explanation. According to this post, you claimed that marketers cater to the primal instincts we have had since the inception of time that calls for us to “save”; but what if that instinct to “save” has nearly vanished, instead? I am proposing a hypothesis that since the modern industrialized society that we live in no longer calls for “saving” as a necessity for survival, it has already disappeared. Thus, since saving is no longer an issue, we feel more comfortable in the lavish spending habits that most people in our modern times have. According to an article I read (link is down below), American spending has increased over the years, which aids your claims that marketers are definitely appealing to some portion of our brains to spend more and more of the money we make.


    Finally, maybe you would have found it helpful to go into more detail about the science behind our spending. What occurs in our brain that tells us that it is okay to spend money that we don’t have?

  2. Matthew O'Brien

    I also find contemporary marketing tactics to be quite interesting. Your insights into the aspect of timing and pricing were spot on. I do think, however, that you could have made your post more scientific by discussing some of the ways that the brain is affected by marketing schemes (ex. smell and temperature of the store or restaurant). Nowadays, marketers are very aware of the places where our eyes tend to look and how many syllables in a price are ideal for us to feel comfortable with a purchase. This article discusses some of what I think are great examples of 21st century marketing techniques that go beyond the basics.

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